Speech Therapy Blog

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What is a Speech-Language Pathologist?

"Speech-language pathologists work to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children and adults."

http://www.asha.org/Students/Speech-Language-Pathology

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wHAT IS AN ARTICULATION DISORDER?

  

Reprinted from the American Speech & Hearing Association website:

What are the signs of an articulation disorder?

An articulation disorder involves problems making sounds. Sounds can be substituted, left off, added or changed. These errors may make it hard for people to understand you.

Young children often make speech errors. For instance, many young children sound like they are making a “w” sound for an “r” sound (e.g., “wabbit” for “rabbit”) or may leave sounds out of words, such as “nana” for “banana.” The child may have an articulation disorder if these errors continue past the expected age.

To see the age range during which most children develop each sound, visit Talking Child’s speech chart.

What are the signs of a phonological disorder?

A phonological process disorder involves patterns of sound errors. For example, substituting all sounds made in the back of the mouth like “k” and “g” for those in the front of the mouth like “t” and “d” (e.g., saying “tup” for “cup” or “das” for “gas”).

Another rule of speech is that some words start with two consonants, such as broken or spoon. When children don’t follow this rule and say only one of the sounds (“boken” for broken or “poon” for spoon), it is more difficult for the listener to understand the child. While it is common for young children learning speech to leave one of the sounds out of the word, it is not expected as a child gets older. If a child continues to demonstrate such cluster reduction, he or she may have a phonological process disorder.

To see the ages at which phonological processes should disappear, go to Elimination of Phonological Processes, and for descriptions of the common processes see Phonological Processes.

How are speech sound disorders diagnosed?

A speech-language pathologist (SLP) is the professional that evaluates children or adults with speech and language difficulties. The SLP listens to the person and may use a formal articulation test to record sound errors. An oral mechanism examination is also done to determine whether the muscles of the mouth are working correctly. The SLP may recommend speech treatment if the sound is not appropriate for the child’s age or if it is not a feature of a dialect or accent. For children, the SLP often also evaluates their language development to determine overall communication functioning.

What if I speak more than one language? Is an accent a speech sound disorder?

An accent is the unique way that speech is pronounced by a group of people speaking the same language. Accents are a natural part of spoken languages. It is important to realize that no accent is better than another. Accents are NOT a speech or language disorder. An SLP can work on accent modification services if a client wishes to reduce or modify his or her accent. (Please go to Foreign Accent Screening link on Home Page for a free screening of your foreign accent)

What treatments are available for people with speech sound disorders?

SLPs provide treatment to improve articulation of individual sounds or reduce errors in production of sound patterns.

Articulation treatment may involve demonstrating how to produce the sound correctly, learning to recognize which sounds are correct and incorrect, and practicing sounds in different words. Phonological process treatment may involve teaching the rules of speech to individuals to help them say words correctly.

What causes speech sound disorders?

Many speech sound disorders occur without a known cause. A child may not learn how to produce sounds correctly or may not learn the rules of speech sounds on his or her own. These children may have a problem with speech development, which does not always mean that they will simply outgrow it by themselves. Many children do develop speech sounds over time but those who do not often need the services of an SLP to learn correct speech sounds.

Some speech sound errors can result from physical problems, such as:

· developmental disorders (e.g.,autism)

· genetic syndromes (e.g., Down syndrome)

· hearing loss

· illness

· neurological disorders (e.g., cerebral palsy)

Children who experience frequent ear infections when they were young are at risk for speech sound disorders if the ear infections were accompanied by hearing loss.Speaking with an accent and/or dialect is not a speech sound disorder.

How common are speech sound disorders?

In young children learning to speak, speech sound errors are quite common. In fact, very few children develop speech without producing errors early on. By the age of 8, children should be able to produce all sounds in English correctly.  (Contact Carol@FenwickSpeechTherapy.com if you would like a screening of your child’s articulation skills).

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How to help your child improve his/her speech


Harriett Hoeprich,   Speech/Language Specialist


Be a practice partner.
  Ask your child’s speech/language therapist to let you know when it would be   helpful for you to practice at home. Then practice your child’s successful   words, using word cards or objects, at home. Use games and other fun   activities, and make your sessions short and frequent. (5-15 minutes a day)

Don’t directly correct sounds that your child has not worked on   yet.
  Direct correction has been shown to be largely ineffective and disruptive.   This is especially true when the child has not had the opportunity to have   the new skill presented in a more isolated way than connected speech. At some   point, your therapist will let you know if your child is at the stage where   gentle reminders may be effective during connected speech for the targeted   sound. This is usually after mastery has been achieved at the single word   level, however.

Use revision every day to address the articulation needs as a   whole.
Parents   don’t realize how powerful this can be, particularly if the revision is used   consistently and simply. Revision is the technique where you repeat what the   child has said, but use the correct pronunciation. You may want to give the   sound a little extra emphasis. (Example–Child: Look at bu! Adult: Look at that   bug! Go, bug, go!)

Don’t directly imitate your child’s errors. Model good speech.
Some   of the cute things our children say are very precious to us. But don’t   inadvertently reinforce the incorrect productions by laughing or drawing   attention. Certainly don’t imitate the incorrect production. Repeat the   utterance using the correct pronunciation. And make a tape or video recording   to save your memories of some of the adorable things your child says at this   age! Model good speech.

Address health issues that may contribute to the problem.
Fight   ear infections. Address other physical difficulties that may contribute, such   as mouth breathing or voice difficulties.

Read to your child.
It’s   amazing how much this accomplishes. Use reading as a way to surround your child   with the targeted sound. (See “Ideas for Books to Enhance Articulation   Skills”.)

Play with your child.
Spend   time talking with your child in play, while you model the correct productions   very simply, using revision.

Talk to your child.
Talk   to your child as you go through your daily routine. This is a chance to model   many correct productions, use revision, and stimulate language development,   too.

Below   are some fun ideas of games and activities you can use to practice your   child’s sounds. Many of these games involve the use of simple picture cards   which can be made out of index cards and catalogs.
  Use the picture cards to play Concentration (Memory) or Go Fish.
  Play a board game like Candyland, but have your child say a word before he   takes a turn each time. Don’t forget to take a word yourself! Then it’s one   more model your child gets to hear. When your child is ready for this step,   let your child “catch” you making the sound “the old way” and let him show   you how it should be said with the “new sound”.
  If your child isn’t quite ready to enjoy traditional board games like   Candyland, use something like Hi-Ho Cherrio, which is a simpler type of game.   Use the picture cards in the same manner, however.
  Play more active types of games, such as Nerf Golf, Bean Bag Toss, Ring Toss,   and Bowling by simplifying the game to include less movement. This works   really well with the minimal pairs. Put out two bowling pins with a picture   card of the pair against each one (pin-bin, for example). Then try several   approaches: Have your child tell you which one he knocked over, or which one   he will knock over. Then gently tell him: “You said you were going to knock   over the picture of ‘pin’. You knocked over ‘bin’.”
  Hide the picture cards and let your child “find” them. You can also hide the   pictures in other containers, such as plastic eggs.

           

 


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BOOKS THAT HELP WITH ARTICULATION SKILLS

Harriet Hoeprich, Speecjh/language Specialist

   

The following are only a brief ist of possible books to enhance articulation skills. One reason that reading  can be a helpful way of enhancing articulation is by “bombarding” the  child with many opportunities to hear the correct pronunciation of the targeted sound. When you know your child has worked on a certain sound in therapy, it can also be another way to practice new skills. When you  talk about the book with your child, the sound should come up naturally  because of the topic or words in the book. You can use a “closure”  technique to elicit certain words, if you feel fairly confident that your child can produce the sound. (For example: “Caps for sale! Fifty cents a ____.” letting your child fill in the blank.) Or you could have the child “read” part of the book with you, if it’s a story he is very         familiar with. Very repetitive stories are also helpful in eliciting  phrases–such as “Polar Bear, Polar Bear, what do you hear?”


Remember to use a very natural, low-key approach.  Drilling under pressure will probably result in the child disliking the  activity and possibly the whole idea of reading and speaking, which is certainly not your goal! Remember that even if your child is “only” listening, she is still gaining the auditory bombardment of the sound and opportunities to hear the correct pronunciation in a controlled setting, not to mention all the other benefits of spending time with  you and reading.


K SOUND
THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR by Eric Carle
        CROSS COUNTRY CAT by Mary Calhoun
        CAPS FOR SALE by Esphyr Slobodkina
        CATS AND CANARY by Michael Foreman
        CAN I KEEP HIM by Steven Kellogg
        CORDUROY by Don Freeman
        MILLIONS OF CATS by Wanda Gag

        D SOUND
        A DARK, DARK TALE by Ruth Brown
        HAVE YOU SEEN MY DUCKLING? by Nancy Tafuri
        MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS by Robert McCloskey

        P SOUND
EACH PEACH, PEAR, PLUM by Janet and Allen Ahlberg
        HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON by Crockett Johnson
        PAT THE BUNNY by Dorothy Kunhardt
        THE PIG’S WEDDING by Helen Heine
        POPPY THE PANDA by Dick Gackenbach

        F SOUND
FAMILY by Helen Oxenbury
        FEELINGS by Aliki
        FINDERS KEEPERS by Will and Nicholas Mordvinoff
        A FARMER’S ALPHABET by Mary Axariun
        THE FOOT BOOK by Dr. Seuss
        THE FOOLISH FROG by Pete and Charles Seeger
        FIVE LITTLE FOXES AND THE SNOW by Tony Johnston
        ONE FISH, TWO FISH, RED FISH, BLUE FISH by Dr. Seuss
        FIX-IT by David McPhail
        GONE FISHING by Earlene Long
        THE LITTLE FUR FAMILY by Margaret Wise Brown

        M SOUND
MOON MAN by Tomi Ungerer
        MAMA DON’T ALLOW by Thatchur Hurd
        MADELINE by Ludwig Bemelmans
        MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB by Mary Josepha Hale
        MAX’S FIRST WORD by Rosemary Wells
        MITCHELL IS MOVING by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

        G SOUND
        GOOD MORNING, CHICK by Mirra Ginsburg
        GOOD-BYE HOUSE by Frank Asch
        GONE FISHING by Earlene Long
        GOODNIGHT MOON by Margaret Wise Brown
        I GO WITH MY FAMILY TO GRANDMA’S by Riki Levinson

        H SOUND
THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR by Eric Carle
        THE THREE LITTLE PIGS by many different authors
        HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOON by Frank Asch
        HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON by Crockett Johnson
        HIPPOS GO BERSERK by Sandra Boynton
        HOLES AND PEEKS by Ann Jonas
        HOW DO I PUT IT ON? by Shrego Watanabe
        HUSH LITTLE BABY by Jeanette Winter

        B SOUND
I AM A BUNNY by Ole Risom
        HUSH LITTLE BABY by Jeanette Winter
        PAT THE BUNNY by Dorothy Kunhardt
        THE RUNAWAY BUNNY by Margaret Wise Brown

        L SOUND
I KNOW AN OLD LADY by Nadine Bernard Wescott
        I LOVE MY BABY SISTER by Elaine Edelman
        A LION FOR LEWIS by Rosemary Wells
        THE LITTLE DUCK by Judy Dunn
        THE LITTLE PUPPY, THE LITTLE LAMB, THE LITTLE KITTEN, ETC… by Judy Dunn
        THE LADY AND THE SPIDER by Faith McNulty
        THE LITTLE FUR FAMILY by Margaret Wise Brown
        LYLE, LYLE, CROCODILE by Bernard Waber

        SH SOUND
        HUSH LITTLE BABY by Jeanette Winter
        ONE FISH, TWO FISH, RED FISH, BLUE FISH by Dr. Seuss
        SHEEP IN A JEEP by Nancy Shaw
        SHEEP IN A SHOP by Nancy Shaw
        SHHHH! by Suzy Kline
        SHHHHH…BANG by Margaret Wise Brown
        SHINE, SUN! by Carol Greene

        TH SOUND
THE THANK YOU BOOK, by Francoise Seignobuse
        THINGS I HATE by Harriett Wittels
        THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD by Wally Piper
        AND TO THINK THAT I SAW IT ON MULBERRY STREET by Dr. Seuss
        TEETH by Michael Ricketts
        THANK YOU by Edith Flack Ackley
        THUNDERSTORM by Mary Szilagyi
        THUMP AND PLUNK by Janice May Udry
        THE THINKING BOOK by Sandol Stoddard
        THE THINKING PLACE by Barbara Joosse
        THIS AND THAT AND THUS AND SO by Evaline Nuss
        THIDWICK, THE BIG-HEARTED MOOSE by Dr. Seuss
        THREE BY THE SEA by Edward Marshall

R SOUND
        ROSIE’S WALK by Pat Hutchins
        ROTTEN RALPH by Jack Gantos
        LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD by the Brothers Grimm

        S SOUND
SWIMMY by Leo Lionni
        BROWN BEAR, BROWN BEAR by Bill Martin
        SEE AND SAY by Antonio Frasconi
        THE SEAL MOTHER by Mordicai Berestein
        SEARCH FOR SAM by Neil Morris
        SEEN ANY CATS? by Frank Modell
        SEEDS by Terry Jennings

        T SOUND
        THE TEENY-TINY WOMAN by Paul Galdone
        TEN, NINE, EIGHT by Molly Bang
        TOUCH! TOUCH! by Riki Levinson
        TEENY TINY by Jill Bennett
        TASTING by Richard Allington
        TAN TAN’S HAT by Kazuo Iwamura
        TICKLE TICKLE by Helen Oxenbury
        TIGER CAT by Slawomir Wolski
        TIC, TAC AND TOE by Bruno Munari

        FINAL CONSONANTS
        LOUIS THE FISH by Arthur Yorinks
        THE LITTLE DUCK by Judy Dunn
        MOON MAN by Tomi Ungerer
        PERFECT THE PIG by Susan Jeschke
        THE CAT IN THE HAT by Dr. Seuss
        ONE FISH, TWO FISH, RED FISH, BLUE FISH by Dr. Seuss
        CROSS COUNTRY CAT by Mary Calhoun
        CAN I KEEP HIM? by Steven Kellogg
        A DARK, DARK TALE by Ruth Brown
        THE FOOT BOOK by Dr. Seuss
        GOODNIGHT MOON by Margaret Wise Brown
        HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOON by Frank Asch
        OLD MACDONALD HAD A FARM Several versions available
        HOP ON POP by Dr. Seuss
        TEETH by Michael Ricketts
        TIC, TAC, AND TOE by Bruno Munari
        You will probably come up with many more of your own favorites!


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coping with sensory processing issues and sensitivities

From the website: Understanding Sensory Processing Issues.  https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/sensory-processing-issues/understanding-sensory-processing-issues


It’s hard to show sensitivity for things you can’t see. It can also be difficult enough “just” to open up about your struggles. It’s often even more difficult to ask for what you need, lest you feel like a burden or demanding to family and loved ones.

These are huge obstacles to the critical task of building community and support, particularly for people with disabilities.

Most material available on sensory processing issues focuses on children – likely since that is the common age of diagnosis – but these problems affect people of all ages and can be extremely disruptive. Because of misguided brain signaling, specific sensory triggers – of any sense – can become absolutely debilitating and unbearable.

In this piece, after a brief overview of the issues, we’ve compiled a list of tips to be aware of and help alleviate the symptoms at home. At the very least, we hope this piece facilitates safe, open conversations between you and your loved ones about how to best be supportive.

What are sensory processing issues?

Any disruption of the senses that causes hypersensitivity to that particular sense counts as a sensory processing issue, and results from dysfunctional processing of that particular sense or senses. There are many different ways that these issues may arise, and they usually accompany other health issues.

Sensory Processing Disorders

Though not recognized as their own diagnosis, sensory processing disorders tend to fall into a few different categories that consistently present alongside other disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder (including Asperger syndrome), ADHD, learning and language disabilities, and even Fragile X syndrome. An added layer here is that people with SPDs might not be comfortable communicating their triggers, and so you might see the effects – such as isolation, avoidance, aggression, depression, and anxiety – without readily seeing the causes. Some of the most common sensory processing disorders include:

· Sensory Modulation Disorder occurs when the brain’s responsiveness to sensory stimuli is altered. It can result in over-responsivity to stimuli, under-responsivity, or sensory seeking (where only the most intense stimuli are recognized by the brain, and therefore people need constant rich sensory input). The solutions we list here are particularly helpful for those with sensory modulation disorder.

· Sensory Discrimination Disorder occurs when people have trouble making sense of sensory input. They can receive stimuli – for example, they can experience the sensation of touch – but those with tactile SDD cannot use touch to tell the difference between different objects. There are eight different subtypes: tactile, vestibular, auditory, proprioceptive, visual, interoceptive, olfactory, and gustatory (the last two often occur together). The recommendations we make here in this piece might help people with SDD by simplifying the sensory landscape and facilitating other therapeutic methods to help hone their processing.

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Sensory Sensitivities

One issue not discussed as much is that sensory sensitivities may result as part of other diseases and/or their treatments. The list of potential conditions that can cause sensory sensitivities is rather long and beyond the scope of this piece, however we wanted to draw attention to some of the more common ones. You may encounter people on a daily basis who are silently struggling with these sensory sensitivities. Again it is important to remember that these sensitivities can be completely disruptive and must not be taken lightly. Because there is often no clear, established pathologic association between the two, these sensitivities might be unfairly dismissed.

Some – by far not all – body-related causes of sensory sensitivity include:

· Migraines can often be triggered by light, sound, or even certain smells. Then, while suffering from migraines, many individuals find it helpful to isolate themselves – e.g. go into a quiet, dark room – to help alleviate the symptoms until the headache goes away. Because migraines can be such a moving target for treatment, it is extremely valuable – when a trigger is known – to act on it.

 

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· Anxiety is the most common mental illness, affecting almost 1 in 5 American adults per year. Sensory problems, particularly to touch or sound, commonly arise. prediabetes).

· Fibromyalgia is a very common pain disorder that can be caused by a wide variety of factors, but which can cause high sensitivity to sensory stimulation, especially to touch.

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What can be done at home?

The home should be the ultimate source of comfort and nurturing. If you or a loved one are dealing with any of these sensory sensitivities, aside from discussing therapeutic possibilities with your doctor, you definitely want to ease the burden at home and create an environment that is restful.

Some of these fixes carry over very well into the workplace, and so you may wish to find ways to either incorporate these into your workplace yourself, or speak with your company to find ways to make these accommodations readily available. (It’s a good idea to have some form of medical documentation if you choose to pursue the latter.)

OLFACTION (SMELL)

· Filter your air well: Remove particulates, scents, and allergens to help ease the burden on your body and potentially reduce sensitivity over time. For maximum effect, make sure you consistently replace your air filters per the maintenance recommendations.

· Maximize air flow: Use HVAC systems, fans, and open windows to keep air moving and prevent the risk of lingering scents

· Consider keeping rooms on the side of cool: Heat maximizes molecular dispersions and allows scents to spread faster.

· Monitor the humidity in your rooms: and the effect it has on sensitivity. Dry air and moist air carries scents differently because of the molecular interactions between the water and fragrance. Consider using an inexpensive device to monitor temperature and humidity in rooms, and then use open windows, humidifiers, or dehumidifiers as needed to find balance.

· Install well-fitted doors to rooms prone to smells: Kitchens and bathrooms tend to be rich in both scents and odors. A sealed door might be overkill, but making sure there are partitions that are well-fitted to their frames can help keep scents contained and manage symptoms.

· Try using natural scent absorbers: like baking soda or activated charcoal.

· Steer clear of artificial fragrances: Check your cleaning reagents and hygiene products in particular, and always opt for “fragrance-free.” You may want to try using high-quality essential oils instead, although these are still triggers for some people.

· Try using vinegar, baking soda, and other milder solutions to clean: Confirm that these aren’t triggers as everyone is different, but many people who cannot tolerate harsher chemical formulations and materials like bleach are able to tolerate these.

GUSTATORY (TASTE)

Closely linked to olfaction, there are some specific things you can do to aid with gustatory sensitivity.

· Discuss and validate triggers: If someone notes a sensitivity to a particular food or flavor, make sure you recognize this – don’t just dismiss it as ‘being picky’ or something. Avoid using that flavor profile.

· Log foods consumed and responses: This can help identify future triggers. This is particularly helpful as triggers may change over time, and also might affect people to varying extents. This is also a great way to work cooperatively to tackle this issue and organically discuss triggers while building and showing support.

· Dine in well-ventilated areas: Because of the close association between taste and smell, these two can function synergistically. Keeping the air flow moving and the level of lingering odors and scents low can help alleviate some hypersensitivity.

· Consider your meal ware: As anyone who’s drank wine knows, barware is designed to help complement and highlight the scents of different beverages; the dishes you eat out of can do the same. Try to use more open dishes to direct fewer of the scents directly at the person with sensitivity.

· Let your food cool ever so slightly before serving: Again, heat facilitates the motion of molecules and will disperse scents further. We certainly don’t recommend completely cooling food, but just a few minutes in a separate room away from the person with sensitivity can help reduce the potency.

· Use sealed containers to store food: This will prevent tastes and odors from migrating from one dish to another.

· Use salt and lemons with discretion, and consider the use of complimentary flavors with discretion: Known tools to help highlight flavors, such as salt and lemon, or use of flavors that sharpen each other (e.g. tomato and basil) can make tastes pronounced past a person’s threshold of tolerance.

VISUAL (SIGHT)

· Use warm lighting: Local hardware stores have very helpful displays that showcase the differences between warm, natural, and cool lighting.

· Remove dimmers from your house: These constantly flicker at levels below the threshold that we can consciously detect, but that flickering can still have the effect of triggering sensitive people.

· Remove fluorescent lights or other potentially harsh sources of light: Seeing a bright light out of the corner of your eye can be enough to trigger a migraine.

· Use task lights pointed in front of you: but never towards you.

· Wear anti-glare lenses: to reduce your exposure to harsh light.

· Use dark colors or simple palettes to decorate: This simplifies the triggers to which a person is exposed by simplifying their visual landscape.

· Use thick curtains: to control lighting in the room. Many people find blackout curtains to be the most helpful, particularly as they can then build their own “cave” where they can cope if they have a particularly strong photophobic reaction.

· Avoid mirrors: These can sharply reflect light, and because that can often vary throughout the day, it might be somewhat unpredictable: you may walk into a room that usually is very eye-friendly, only to happen to come at the exact moment the sun shines directly into the mirror and hits you in the eye.

· Ask before you turn on lights: The sudden onset of light can trigger a person with light sensitivity, and so you want to make sure you check in before you turn them on.

· Buy special glasses: to relieve photophobia. TheraSpecs is one brand that is generally well-reviewed and comes in indoor and outdoor options, for both prescription and non-prescription eyewear.

AUDITORY (SOUND)

· Be sensitive to the type of sound sensitivity: at hand, and modify your solutions accordingly. Some of these conditions may overlap – such as tinnitus and hyperacusis – and so you want to make sure you tailor solutions to the individual.

· Tinnitus: is a constant ringing type of sound that is continuously heard by individuals suffering from it. Silent rooms might actually make it worse.

· Use a white noise machine: These usually offer several different options for sounds to play, volume, timers, and other parameters that you can adjust to fit your or your loved one’s needs. Depending on the frequencies that affect you or your loved one, this device can be helpful.

· Use pillows to elevate your head while you sleep: This tends to reduce congestion and helps make tinnitus less pronounced.

· Avoid stimulants: like coffee, alcohol, and nicotine, which can all exacerbate the stimulants.

· When decorating, prioritize creating a soothing environment: Stress is known to make tinnitus worse.

· Hyperacusis: involves sensitivity to common environmental sound, particularly at higher frequencies.

· Hypersensitive hearing: usually involves particular frequencies and is commonly seen in people on the autism spectrum.

· Choose quieter products: Hair dryers and yard equipment are some of the more common devices that can trigger individuals suffering from hyperacusis, but you can read the specifications and compare while you shop for the quietest option.

· Make sure your windows and doors seal: Prevent sound pollution by making sure all entryways are well isolated.

· Use textiles as buffers: Carpets or rugs can help make footsteps more tolerable. Coasters, table cloths, and towels can ease the sound of surface contact.

· Fill your space: As already noted, textiles and furniture in the home help prevent echoes and dampen sounds. If you suffer from hyperacusis, it might be a good idea to live in a smaller space that has more material in it to help reduce loudness.

· Live on the top floor, preferably corner units: You want to make sure you have access to spaces free of interfering sounds. If you have to live in an apartment unit, make sure you live on the top floor (so you avoid footsteps above) and a corner unit. You might still hear your neighbors, but you’re more likely to be able to find a space in your home that is quiet.

· Perform loud tasks when your affected loved one isn’t home: Vacuuming is the classic example of this. Alternatively, if you live by yourself, consider hiring someone to conduct loud tasks – e.g. cleaning your home – and time it so that you are not home when they do this.

· Wear ear plugs only when absolutely necessary: There are special ear plugs with maximum noise cancellation that might be the ideal for you. It’s not good to always wear ear plugs, both for risk of ear infection as well as rendering the ears hypersensitive, but having ear plugs on hand for ‘surprise’ loud environments might make all the difference in keeping you functional.

TACTILE (TOUCH)

· Consider the texture of all skin-on-skin contact: Discuss towels, sheets, and even furniture covers to make sure everyone is on board with how they feel.

· Consider weighted blankets or layering multiple blankets: Deep pressure can help soothe the anxiety that some people with tactile sensitivity might have.

· Layer clothing across the seasons: This keeps the basic clothing in contact with you or your loved one’s skin constant, so you’re only adjusting to additional weight – not new sensations, which can be overwhelming.

· Buy clothing and textiles without seams and remove all labels: These can exacerbate things for anyone with tactile sensitivity

· Monitor air flow: Direct air currents – such as being in front of a vent – can trigger symptoms. Position furniture so that it is not directly in front of any sources of air flow. When opening windows, be mindful of the flow of air that results, and alert loved ones if need be.

· Discuss food texture: People with tactile sensitivity might be very sensitive to the textures of foods, and so the way you cook and present food might make all the difference.

· Make sure dangers are flagged: People with touch issues might be subject to hyposensitivity or altered processing, and so they might not register pain as a danger sign. Make sure you or your loved ones knows how to tell negative physiological effects that result from injury.

· Always let someone know before you touch them: You might think hugs between loved ones are a no-brainer, but your surprise contact could completely set someone else off and/or cause them pain.

· Ideally, you could discuss with them the ways in which they prefer to receive affection, and make sure you align accordingly.

If you don’t suffer from any of these sensitivities, it can be hard to understand what the person is enduring as a result of exposure. It is critical that you remain sensitive and open to discussing and implementing solutions to help accommodate.

Note: The information contained here is intended as general suggestions, but this piece is not meant to substitute for a consultation with a qualified health professional.

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How to help your young child communicate


To encourage communication with a young child, it is helpful to do the following:


1. Stay on the topic longer.

Stay on a topic that the child is interested in. Extend and deepen conversation so he has more time to talk about a preferred topic of interest. Ask questions about his topic and encourage him to answer. This encourages turn-taking skills which are important during conversation.

2. Associations

Relate or associate new vocabulary words to familiar words. If your child knows big, use other words like huge or large.

3. Complete the sentence

Have the child complete the sentence with the new vocabulary word.  An adult provides part of the sentence and the child completes it with the new vocabulary word.  If the target word is “cookies”, you could say “Today we had fun; we made __________”.  Wait for him to finish the sentence.4Making longer utterances

4.  Making longer sentences

Expanding and extending is a technique for adding words that are missing from the child’s utterances.   If the child says:  “baby eat” you can say “The baby is eating cereal.”  For “Big dog” you could say “I am patting the big dog.”

   5. Predicting, Analyzing and Summarizing

If your preschooler has some expressive language, you can ask them questions that help them predict, analyze or summarize information.  They have already acquired language and are beyond the emerging language stage. You can ask them questions while reading a book together, watching a movie or after an event.  Examples are: What’s going to happen next? Why did the girl feel that way?  Can you tell me what happened in the story (or during the birthday party?) 

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